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Class of 2013: Artiga pumped up to pursue biology degree

Senior Cristian Artiga stands in the weight room at Worthington High School. (Beth Rickers/Daily Globe)

This is the first story in a four-part series on graduating seniors at Worthington High School. The stories will run every few weeks on the People page.

WORTHINGTON -- Like most high school seniors, Cristian Artiga is anxious to grab his diploma, leave Worthington High School behind and move on to the next phase of his life.

But someday, Cristian plans to walk the halls of a high school again -- as a teacher. His aspiration is to teach biology at the high school level.

Cristian moved to Worthington with his family and started school as a kindergartener in District 518. The son of Alexy Nunez and Alejandro Artiga, he has two brothers -- one older and one younger -- and a younger sister.

As expected from his future plans, science has been Cristian's strongest subject during his high school career, but his grade point average reflects that he's a well-rounded student.

"I'm pretty sure I'll be graduating with highest honors," he said, adding with a sigh, "But I've never gotten a 4.0. I've gotten a 3.9 a few times, but never a 4.0."

Sometimes seniors stack the schedules of their final year with "slacker" classes, but not Cristian.

"I've never had an easy quarter," he said. "I've taken pre-calculus, honors biology, physics. I took a college class in animal science, and you get the credits through the University of Minnesota. It was a challenge, but it was a fun group to be with."

Humanities classes tend to be Cristian's toughest subjects.

"English is definitely the hardest," he admitted. "It's not my strong suit, but I know you really do need it."

One of the classes he has enjoyed the most is called Trojan Textiles.

"You make vinyl signs for classes, T-shirts," he explained. "I made the cross-country T-shirts this year along with Ian Stewart. On the back it said 'Real athletes run miles, not yards.' ... It was cool to see people wearing them. I got one for myself."

This year, Cristian also got involved with BPA -- Business Professionals of America.

"My friend Larry talked me into it. He's been a national participant the last three years," explained Cristian. "In BPA, you do certain competitions, and I'm going to state for economics research project."

Cristian also competed in the interview skills category at the regional competition, but only made state in the research category on the topic of offshoring businesses. He was looking forward to the state competition this weekend in the Twin Cities.

"It's been interesting," he said of his involvement in BPA. "It's fun meeting new people ... and good experience for the future."

As a junior, Cristian served on the prom committee, and this year he anticipates attending again with his girlfriend and not having to worry about the planning.

"It was a lot of work," he said. "And there were a lot of parents who did a lot of work, too."

At one time, Cristian was on the school's wrestling team, but a knee injury put an end to that involvement. But he has no regrets, as the sport got him into weightlifting -- his biggest passion.

"That's a big part of my life now," he said.

Just about every morning before school, Cristian can be found at the local Anytime Fitness.

"I average at least an hour five days a week," he said. "So I'm probably out there six to six and a half hours a week. It's a lifestyle. I enjoy it. I can squat 300 (pounds). That's what we did last week. I don't know my bench."

Cristian's workout partner is fellow WHS senior Freddy Velasco.

"You need somebody to spot you, and he's a funny person, so he keeps me going," credited Cristian. "Right now, I'm on a week off (from lifting). Every three months you take a week off to let the body recover."

On this particular day, Cristian had been in the high school's weight room during gym class -- not lifting himself, but giving his fellow students pointers on how to do it right.

His interest in weightlifting figured into his interest in becoming a biology teacher.

"When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor," he explained. "That was a big goal. Our science teachers have been a big influence. My biology teacher had a big impact in getting me lifting. I figured if he could change my lifestyle, I'd like to do that for someone else, too."

Cristian is also interested in the science of lifting, which is basic biology.

After a recent campus visit, his plan is to attend Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

"It is one of the only schools that has a biology teaching program," he said, adding that school size and proximity to home were also factors. "I was going to go all the way to Iowa State, but it was too big of a school."

Between schoolwork, lifting and work -- he's been employed at Taco John's since his sophomore year and is now a shift manager -- Cristian doesn't have much free time.

"On the weekends, I work eight-hour shifts, so I try to manage my time," he said. "I like to relax with friends, hang out with my little brother, visit family."

And Cristian is counting down the days until graduation, ready to work toward the future he envisions for himself.

"I'm definitely ready to get out of here," he said. "Something new sounds more interesting. I just hope for the best."

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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